The PSP Go doesn't simply represent another version of Sony's handheld device, it also ushers in a new age of development strategy.
Sony is now "aggressively courting developers around the world" to provide content for the digital-powered and UMD-less PSP (set to release on October 1 of this year), and furthermore, it seems they also want to introduce a "streamlined content pipeline," which not only includes disposing of concept approval, but also cheaper development kits, shorter QA processes, and "very low price points for new games." During E3, SCEE's head of developer relations, Zeno Colaco, spoke about this new strategy to Develop :
"One of the things that has been exciting in my time at Sony is the big shift changes we have seen – the latest is that consumers have been consuming digital content in a totally different way. Sony’s been working very hard to find our position in that and bring top-end gaming to not just the consumers who were there for the launch of PSP, but extending to an audience that is changing how it consumes entertainment and applications.
We’re introducing new initiatives for the PSP which take it beyond traditional gaming, but still includes elements from gaming, and also includes new developers."
Sony has already recruited over 50 studios to make games and new applications for the new portable and more will soon sign up, and their completed projects will be purchased and enjoyed by the consumer in a special way. Essentially, Sony will add a new branch to the PlayStation Store, which will be open to both the PSP and PSP Go. The idea of "streamlining content" will allow Sony to follow in Apple's footsteps in regards to the iPhone; provided they have Apple's approval, developers can sell just about whatever they want on the App Store. The PSP Go won't function in the exact same way – it won't be a "publicly available SDK" – but it's still a significant alteration in the way Sony approaches their handheld business.
"It is still a professional environment, you still need a development kit and you still need to have investment and a team. But it can be a small team. We don’t see any of the restrictions on the disc-based space being in this space."
Developer Subatomic's Ash Monif likes the idea of cheaper, less restrictive content that will quickly find its way into the hands of PSP owners. "You don't see this happening at Microsoft and you even don't see it happening at Nintendo yet," he said. He goes on to refer to the "snackability" of the content, which can fly across WiFi connections at super fast speeds. For instance, Subatomic are currently making games for the PSP Go that are only 20MB each, which translates to a download time of under one minute. Monif calls it a big opportunity for independent developers.
We had heard when the PSP Go was first announced that Sony would be looking to appeal to a wider audience, and this strategy is evidence of that goal. Now, the only question the hardcore have is, "okay, but will we still get the big blockbusters like God of War: Chains of Olympus and the like?" Well, we hope this focus on casual content won't override that; after all, we do have Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker coming, don't we…?